In 1996 Suzuki put their GSXR back on the map with the release of the GSXR 750 SRAD. It was an all-new design, featuring an alluminium beam frame (a first for a GSXR), a ram-air system (known as Suzuki Ram Air Direct, aka SRAD) and chassis geometry taken directly from their RGV 500 GP bike that Kevin Schwantz won the world title on back in ’93. It was an instant hit and quickly became the nutters choice and gained a ‘bad boy’ reputation because of its light weight and peaky power delivery.
My GSXR 750 srad is not actually my bike, it belongs to my girlfriend (yes I’m lucky, she loves bikes too). She bought the bike about six and half years ago as her first bike. While she was doing her lessons and test, I rode the bike around. The last bike I owned was a 2000 model Yamaha R1 which – although was a great bike – just didn’t suit me and my riding style and if I’m honest it knocked my confidence a bit.
The moment I first pulled away on the GSXR it just felt right and seemed much more neutral and better balanced than my old R1 and I immediately felt confident on the bike. There’s bugger all low or midrange torque though and nothing much happens below 10,000 rpm. Take it above the 10k mark and into the magic ‘Top Gun’ zone (I feel the need…) and it really flies and feels much stronger than the R1 I had previously (probably due to the early R1’s lack of ram-air).
It’s a bike that likes to be ridden hard and much like a 600cc bike it needs to be thrashed to get the best from it. If you ride it around at ‘normal’ speeds you could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. With a distinct lack of midrange torque it’s an absolute pussycat at those speeds and behaves itself so well that you wonder where the bad boy reputation came from.
At more dizzy speeds things start to make more sense and the bike transforms from the mild-mannered pussycat into a track focused scalpel. The steering isn’t lightning fast by today’s standards, but you can still place the bike with inch perfect precision. For me, the chassis is the stand out feature of the bike and with decent tyres and properly set-up suspension the handling is superb. I don’t have any problems keeping up with much more modern bikes on track days!
The only bad point is the brakes, it’s a common GSXR weakness and they weren’t particularly good when new, let alone 17 years later! They can be easily improved though from simply fitting better discs and pads and a radial master cylinder from a newer GSXR.
I absolutely LOVE this bike, it’s hugely involving and great fun to ride if you’re prepared to put the effort in. Compared to modern bikes that now have lots of high tech riding aids such as ABS and traction control the old skool GSXR SRAD is such a rush, it feels alive and when you get it right it’s one of the most rewarding bikes ever.
You can pick these bikes up for as little as £1500 now which makes them an absolute bargain in my book. So if you like bikes with attitude and that make you work to get the best from them, you NEED one of these bad boys in your life.
Review and picture by Simon Searle